If it's not Kobe, it's Pau Gasol. If it's not Gasol, it's Lamar Odom. If it's not Odom, it's Ron Artest. Two guys, Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar, stepped up off the bench. The Lakers just look unbeatable right now. Gasol scored 14 points in the last 10:37 of the fourth quarter to ice the game for LA. Phoenix had no answers defensively against a Lakers team that can beat you from anywhere on the court; inside, outside and mid-range. Gasol finished with 29 points and nine boards. Kobe added 21. Artest had 18 and was three-for-six from trifecta.
The Suns were so focused on closing on Kobe and inside guys (Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Odom) that Artest was all alone from the corner. Shannon Brown, a backup point guard, came off the bench to score eight, and, even more impressive, Jordan Farmar was three-for-three from three range and finished with 11. Odom had 17 and 11 in another "lucky game."
The Lakers shot 57.7% from the floor (45-for-78) and 56.3% from trifecta (9-for-16). They were also 25-for-34 from the line (73.5%). The rebounding was pretty close, 39-34, but the Lakers seemed to get the offensive rebounds when they needed them.
The Suns tied it at 88 on a Grant Hill 17-foot jumper, then again at 90 on a Steve Nash 17-footer heading into the fourth quarter. But Farmar sank a trifecta at the start of the fourth, and with the the Lakers leading 95-93, they went on an 11-2 run to go up 106-95. Then Gasol took over and it didn't get much closer than that.
Jason Richardson led the Suns with 27 points on 10-for-17 shooting and three-for-seven from three. Grant Hill had a great night with 23. The Suns shot almost 50% from the field and were 10-for-24 from three (41.7%), much better than the five-for-24 the other night. Jared Dudley was five-for-five from trifecta. Amar'e had 18 points and 6 boards. They need bigger numbers from him. Steve Nash had 11 points and 15 assists.
The Suns' backs are planted against the wall, and it's win game three or they're home for the summer. If they can't get it done Sunday, it's over. The amazing stat to me is Phil Jackson's 45-0 record when winning the first game of a series. That's ominous for the Suns.
Game three is Sunday at 8 p.m. on TNT.
(Jordan Farmar of Lakers pictured above)